Editors note: About half of this post is recycled content from a recent comment of mine, so if you think you have seen it before, you probably have – but it also has two important aspects – it fits and I am lazy…so there you go. This one is like the Soylent Green of posts.
First of all, I don’t think Q-Star is a pollster – they take the polls that are conducted by others and re-weight them to reflect something that is closer to reality. Most of the polls are using a sampling that reflects the 2008 election even though the 2010 mid-terms did show a dramatic shift in party identification. Now that more people identify as “conservative” or “Republican” according to Pew and Gallup, it would seem to make sense to look at a different model than was used in 2008. Some polls have used wildly skewed models to give Democrats a 11-12 point edge when reality says that it is more like a 3-5 point edge.
The left is casting doubt and saying that Republicans are living in an alternate universe but I am telling you folks, we have seen this before. In the 1980 election, the polls did not start to reflect reality until about three weeks from the election and liberals were shocked not only that Reagan was elected but by the margin of victory as well. There is a difference today, while the media has always been in the tank for Democrats, in 1980 they weren’t fully submerged and sitting on the sandy bottom for Carter the way they are for Obama so it may not play out exactly like 1980 – but I believe the results will be similar.
I don’t know that the 2010 election weighting is accurate but by the same token, I doubt that the 2008 weighting is reflective of reality either. 2008 stretched the rubber band way to the left and the 2010 mid-terms were the reaction to that, it snapped way back. Things have settled a bit now but what is different is the level of dissatisfaction with Obama on both sides.
Here’s what Republican pollster John McLaughlin said to Jim Geraghty at NRO about the power of polls:
How campaigns try to sway polling results: “In a close race, the operatives are trying to manipulate the turnout through their paid and earned media. The earned media includes lobbying and trying to skew the public polls. Historically the most egregious case was the 2000 Gore campaign’s lobbying the networks’ exit pollsters for an early, and wrong, call in Florida. This suppressed the Florida Panhandle and Western state turnout.” (Polls close at different times in different parts of the state, because the state stretches into two time zones.) “In our post-election Florida poll, we found that thousands of Panhandle Floridians heard the call and although their polls were still open for an hour in a close national race decided not to vote. Panhandle voters went two-to-one for Bush. The CBS early wrong call nearly triggered a national crisis.”
On what a realistic partisan breakdown would look like: “The 2004 national exit polls showed an even partisan turnout and Bush won 51–48. Had it been the +4 Democratic edge of 2000, John Kerry would have been president. 2008 was a Democratic wave that gave them a +7 partisan advantage. 2010 was a Republican edge. There’s no wave right now. There are about a dozen swing states where in total millions of voters who voted in 2008 for Obama are gone or have not voted since. There are also hundreds of thousands of voters in each of several swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and others who voted from rural, exurban or suburban areas in 2004 for Bush who did not vote in 2008, because they were not excited by McCain or thought he would lose. They are currently planning to vote mainly as a vote against President Obama.”
From a pure demographic and political sense, it seems logical to me.
What even the “skewed” the polls do show is that Obama can’t get above 50% and Romney leads in the “independent” category by double digits (in some polls but a consistent 7-8% across the board) and he leads in the middle class by a substantial margin. It is also instructive that unemployment is still over 8% and unlikely to change in the last month before the election. These three things (I’m going to aggregate the independent and middle class things together for simplicity) have doomed incumbent presidents in the past and will likely doom Obama this time.
There is another consideration that I think is under-reported and under-appreciated and those are the differing levels of voter enthusiasm – Republicans have it, Democrats don’t. Even Republicans who dislike Romney will vote for him on the the ABO ticket against Obama. I think that the college loan debt ridden and unemployed young folks who cheer The Won on campus will just get drunk and stay at home. I think the leftists who think Obama is a capitalist tool will stay at home as well. Black Christians are also going to find it difficult to vote for Obama this time as well due to his deathbed conversion on gay marriage. My read is that these three things will depress Democrat turnout by 5-8% right off the bat.
So, these are the four things that I think the election will turn on, and today, I see Obama losing in each area:
- Obama under 50% in all the polls,
- Romney leading with independents, the middle class and late deciding “undecideds” traditionally breaking against the incumbent,
- Unemployment over 8% on election day, and
- Voter enthusiasm greater for Republicans than Democrats.
My gut tells me that there are already a lot of decisions made one way or the other – lots of folks are already locked and loaded – but I do think that there are about a third of the electorate who will not decide until the curtain is pulled in the booth. These are the people who voted for Obama the last time, don’t want to publicly appear to be voting against the first black president this time, but they also have a practical and pragmatic side. They know that we can’t possibly withstand another 4 years of this level of governmental ineptitude. Obama’s support among these folks is only kept afloat by the relentlessly negative media coverage of Romney and it’s reluctance to report anything negative about Obama – but in the quiet and privacy of the voting booth, I believe that they will pull the lever for Romney even though before the election they will tell the pollsters that they are “undecided” or “leaning” Democrat and will tell the exit pollsters that they voted for Obama.
If I am right, we will see a large difference in the exit polls and the actual results, especially in the “swing” states.
I could be way off – but I am basing this on my observation of America after not being immersed in the culture all the time. I’ve been living out of the country for almost two years now but this year, I have made several trips back. I have noticed that the mood has definitely swung against Obama in the groups that I have interacted with – unquestionably a small and unscientific sample but I have friends who are saying things today about the President that they argued with me on just 3 years ago. The irrational emotion that was driving Hope and Change is gone – except in the most rabid Obama supporters.
Six weeks to go and we will know for sure if I am right.
Just trust me – I am an ISTJ after all.